The email marketing landscape is always changing as marketers find new and savvy ways to boost engagement, increase conversions, and maximize their efforts. But, beyond the discussion of open rates, click-throughs, subject lines, A/B testing and deliverability is the issue of compliance.
In an overall sense, there are two rulebooks that email marketers follow:
Most marketers are familiar with the US CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. But, now Canada has their own proposed version of anti-spam legislation that in it’s current state goes much further than it’s US counterpart.
It’s important marketers are aware of the new proposed legislation so they can begin taking action well in advance to ensure they remain in full compliance. While there is still a lot of time to make sure your ducks are all in a row to appease CASL, it’s never too soon to get started.
This post will cover the main highlights of Canada’s proposed Anti-Spam Legislation. For a more in-depth summary, you can read my blog post titled “All About CASL (Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation) in Plain English”.
CASL isn’t just focused on Canadian email marketers, but rather extends its coverage to anyone who is emailing someone that will receive that message within Canada.
So, if you run an eCommerce store out of the USA, but you occasionally sell to people north of the border and have those folks on your mailing list, then CASL is in full force for you.
It’s not just those in North America that have to play under these new rules because the people behind CASL are hoping it’s reach will extend to marketers internationally who are contacting Canadians. In an interview, the CRTC’s chief compliance and enforcement officer, Andrea Rosen, said:
If the spammer is offshore, we have the ability under the law to co-operate with foreign governments, to share information and to bring proceedings together against individuals that are offshore.
There is an exemption written into CASL that if the sender does not know or could not expect to know that the receiver would be using a Canadian computer to access the email, then you’re off the hook. So, if your USA-based eCommerce store doesn’t ship to Canada and you have no Canadian’s on your mailing list, but someone has taken the trip to see the Jays play in Toronto and while there they get your email, you don’t have to panic.
Do keep in mind, however, that ignorance won’t be an excuse so even if you don’t think you have Canadian’s in your database, be sure to be on the lookout for that. At Elite Email, we have been prompting people to look at their geo-reports to get a sense of who is engaging with the email in Canada because it might be more than you think.
The current proposed regulation is really long and if you care to see the whole thing in it’s entirety, you can click here.
For those that are too busy to read the whole law (...and that is probably ALL of us!) here are the primary requirements:
One key thing I want to highlight is the notion of subscribing to your mailing list as an affirmative action. I see a lot of signup forms where the box is pre-checked and you have to uncheck it to indicate you don’t want to signup for a mailing list. If your organization is doing this, then it’s one of the first things you should consider changing. It’s a quick change that will ensure all new subscriber acquisitions are valid under CASL.
While there are lots of different facets to CASL, if I had to boil it down to one thing, I’d say that the most critical factor is ensuring you have obtained consent properly. If you’ve done that, then you’re heading down a good path.
CASL currently outlines four different scenarios that would qualify as consent.
This is the scenario that many people will already be familiar with as it’s the one that is based on an existing business or nonbusiness relationship between the recipient and sender. Essentially, if someone has bought something from your organization or entered into a contract with you then you have a “business relationship” with them. Whereas, if someone does volunteer work for you or becomes part of your organization, then you’ve got a “nonbusiness relationship” with them.
The critical part of this type of implied consent is the 2 year time limitation. From the moment someone purchases something from you, a 2 year window commences where you can email them and be in compliance with CASL without needing any other form of consent. On top of that, if that same person buys something from you again during that window, the clock resets and you get another full 2 years. However, as a general rule of thumb, at some point during that 2 year window, you would want (or need) to obtain explicit consent in order to keep emailing them after that window expires.
I suspect most email marketers are already actively engaged in this type of consent where the recipient gives you direct permission to send them emails. Most commonly you will have a signup form on your website that lets people join your mailing list. This direct type of consent is really at the core of CASL, which is why it’s important that you obtain good evidence to support your practices. Doing things like capturing the date stamp and IP address of a new subscriber when they join your list and then when they confirm their subscription (for double opt-in) will help ensure you’ve got a strong case should someone challenge if consent was obtained.
As I mentioned previously, make sure your signup forms require an affirmative action and not an opt-out action. So, if you’ve got a sneaky pre-checked box that auto-enrols people, you’re going to want to change that up ASAP because it won’t count in the eyes of CASL.
According to CASL, you can also get written or oral consent and while that is acceptable, it should be noted that these methods are far more difficult to prove. If you plan on using these tactics, make sure you’ve got a workflow that allows for the careful documentation of when, where and how consent was obtained.
This is a rather unique scenario that is very different than the two above. You can send someone an email if you obtained their email address and the following three criteria are also met:
(i) The email address is clearly published for viewing.
(ii) In the location where the email address is published, there is no specific statement saying that unsolicited emails are not allowed.
(iii) The email you’d be sending to that address is related to that person’s business or official role. [For example, you can email a university professor about a new book that is related to their field of expertise/interest, but you cannot email that same person trying to sell them concert tickets. It’s a bit tough to exactly draw the line on what is related and what is not, so we might see this further clarified CASL.]
This is the “business card” or “networking” rule under CASL that lets you send someone an email if they willingly share their address with you. CASL doesn’t want to render the email address on a business card useless, so if someone shares their card with you and doesn’t say they do not want to be emailed, then you can email them and be in compliance. Be sure to document the how, when and where they shared their email address with you so you’ve got that on file in case you need supporting evidence. However, do keep in mind that if you want to start sending someone your monthly newsletter (and not just emailing them as a follow-up to a networking event) you should obtain consent using another method as well.
Shame on you! Now go sit in the corner and think about what you’ve done!
But, on top of that shame, penalties for violating CASL can range from a maximum of $1 million for individuals and $10 million for companies.
It should be noted that anyone can bring this new law against a sender, it doesn’t have to just be the government or other legal agency against the sender. Of course, if someone goes down this path and it turns out they were wrong, then they are responsible to cover all court and legal fees.
Also, the reason I have been harping in the sections above about keeping evidence for how you obtained consent is because if you can show that you really made strong efforts to follow every aspects of the rulebook, then that will play a factor in any legal proceedings.
There is still no specific date set so at this point everything is an estimate, although there have already been delays so further delays are not out of the question.
Based on the current flow of events, Industry Canada should have the regulations finalized by the middle of this year (2013). After that, there will be a one year grace period for everyone to digest these new rules and prepare for the coming changes, which will result in CASL going live some time in the middle of 2014.
That being said, there’s no need to wait until the final minutes to start ensuring your compliance with CASL. Although certain parts of the proposed legislation may change, the underlying concepts about the ways you can obtain consent probably won’t change much. So, take a good look at your database now and start to figure out who you may need to re-confirm and what evidence you’ve got to support that consent has been obtained properly (in the eyes of CASL). Review all of your signup and capture forms to make sure that it is an affirmative (and not opt-out) action that enrolls someone on your mailing list. Lastly, doing a periodic top to bottom review of your organization’s email practices can usually either confirm you’ve got your best foot forward and are ready for CASL or highlight areas that you need to improve upon... and there’s no time to take those steps like the present!
* Note: This article is intended to provide general comments about Canada’s new anti-spam legislation. It is not intended to be a comprehensive review nor is it intended to provide legal advice. Readers should not act on information in this article without first seeking advice from their lawyer.
Robert Burko is CEO of Elite Email, a leading email marketing solution and proud member of the Email Experience Council that has been helping businesses of all sizes harness the power of email for 10 years. Robert has been featured extensively in the media for his knowledge of email marketing, social media and digital trends. You can also find him on Google+.
Test These Email Campaign Elements to Optimize Performance
Author: Stephanie Miller, co chair, DMA/eec and VP, Aprimo
Email marketers always are on the hunt for ways to optimize performance.
In fact, a study from Marketing Sherpa found that most marketers routinely test at least four different email campaign elements:
Which of these should you pay attention to? What are the most important email elements to test?
Usually, the answer is in finding the right combination and optimizing over time. Let’s take a look at the top five.
The best guide in subject line writing is that, “Clarity trumps clever. “ Say what you mean, say it succinctly and say it with gusto. Avoid lots of punctuation or aggressively spammy techniques like repeating the word “Free” six times or using symbols to replace vowels like “Vi@gra.” Other than that, feel free to be a marketer and tell me about the offer and the sale prices. You may find that shorter subject lines outperform longer ones – depending on the type of message. You must test this, as we see results favoring both styles win. Optimal performance depends on a variety of subject line factors. Consider:
• Don’t wait until the last minute to write subject lines. Craft them as a key part of the creative process.
• Focus on clarity, and front load subject lines with the most important information as many email clients and mobile devices will truncate longer lines
• Use longer subject lines whenever there is a compelling reason to do so, or if you have multiple offers in the same message
Be sure to test your message template every quarter to be sure it continues to serve you well. Test for spam filters, but also for response. Is your navigation in the way of offer prominence? Would a sidebar serve you best, or does it distract from the core message? Does your footer have the correct legal mumbo jumbo and privacy/compliance links? The DMA/Email Experience Council released a number of Design Checklists for this purpose. Download them (free for members) in the Resource Room.
Relevant content is essential. Subscribers are too busy –and too overwhelmed with digital content –to read messages that aren’t specifically related to their needs/wants. Make sure your message is meaningful and that it stays true to your brand’s voice. I just published Seven Tips for Higher Click Through Rates on the Aprimo blog (LINK: http://blog.aprimo.com/seven-ways-to-improve-email-click-through-rate). Consumers are savvy and impatient, so entice them with information that’s relevant and specific. Consider that there are many elements to a message:
1. Button. Perhaps rather than “Click Here,” your readers would like to be invited to “Learn More” or “Get Discount,” instead. Be realistic about what your readers are prepared to do (not everyone will be ready to “Buy Now!” after reading a few lines of email copy) and be clear with your directions.
2. Message type. Design calls-to-action customized to each email type and purpose. As always, , pay careful attention to their frequency, font, color and location on the page.
3. Offer. Testing offers is not specifically on the Marketing Sherpa list, but I can’t imagine it isn’t a key aspect for optimization. Automation technology and the use of personas can guide you in putting the right offer in front of the right person at the right time.
Layout and images
Email layout and images are more important than ever. Odds are, many (if not most) of your subscribers use an email preview pane feature that displays horizontally. It’s also likely that they block images by default and access email on mobile devices. Plan accordingly. Opt for more horizontal v. vertical elements. Don’t count on images to convey your message. Create content that can be read in different formats and on smaller sized screens.
Day of week sent
As my fellow columnist Simms Jenkins concludes at ClickZ, there is no magic bullet for timing emails. Today’s subscriber lists are typically diverse, and they’re likely to include international customers, people who can/can’t access email during the work day, those who read email on mobile devices, various age groups, etc. Obviously, trying to pinpoint an optimal send times across this wide-range of readers can be problematic. You have to use some judgment , of course–I wouldn’t choose Monday morning to send out a coupon for a Saturday night dinner special, e.g. –but don’t expect a one-size-fits-all solution for every email campaign.
In all marketing, Your mileage may vary. Testing will give you the insights needed to determine optimal send times for your particular message types and audience profiles. Marketing automation plays an increasingly important role, as well, as it allows you to track performance, integrate email communication with other marketing tactics, manage campaigns and change responses based on reactions from the marketplace.
Greisman also reported in the webinar that there is no significant update on the behavioral targeting protection guidelines that the FTC has had out for comment for over a year. “Nothing will happen without input from industry,” she said. Since the mandate from the FTC has been, “self regulate or else,” the webinar panelists Buck, Bartel and Dayman had a number of suggestions for marketers to follow best practices, including:
Marketers and everyone in the email industry can support the FTC, Greisman said. She suggests:
The legislative update webinar was sponsored by Eloqua, e-Dialog and Return Path, with technology sponsor GoToWebinar. The recording of the full event is free for eec members. More details on these and other legislative issues important to digital and direct marketers is in the DMA’s quarterly government affairs newsletter, Politically Direct.
- Stephanie Miller
Return Path & eec
Gmail reported in their blog this week that they have developed a way to provide their users with an opportunity to report spam and/or unsubscribe from emails they receive in their Gmail accounts. The article, titled "Unsubscribing Made Easy" is a positive change for Gmail, but still falls short of where most legitimate senders want to see.
Like many complaint feedback loops (also known as FBL's) offered by a number of ISPs, Gmail's new functionality is mostly a good thing. I applaud their effort, and it certainly helps when there is this cooperation and transparency in the sender/receiver relationship. It is better for everyone. This is why the Abuse Reporting Format was met with applause by senders when it arrived a few years back.
Here are the good parts. First, Gmail's new feature provides the subscriber with a chance to mark a message as spam, which should allow Gmail to better filter their email. Second, in addition to the option to just report spam, the end user may also choose to "unsubscribe and report spam." This second option apparently is just provided when Gmail deems the sender to be reputable. See the image below for an idea on what the subscriber sees.
In his blog, Brad Taylor outlines the reasons Gmail pursued the development of this new feature.
"For those of you senders who are interested in this feature, the most basic requirements are including a standard "List-Unsubscribe" header in your email with a "mailto" URL and, of course, honoring requests from users wishing to unsubscribe. You'll also need to follow good sending practices, which in a nutshell means not sending unwanted email (see our bulk sending guidelines for more information).
With an easy way to unsubscribe, everybody wins. Your spam folder is smaller, and senders don't waste time sending you email that you no longer want.
Update (1:50pm): If you want to unsubscribe without reporting the message as spam, click "show details" in the top-right corner of the message, then click "Unsubscribe from this sender."
It is this piece that leads me to a bit of concern on the implementation. If Gmail is doing their usual checks on authentication, reputation, content etc. to determine which senders are legitimate, why then force the end-user to either mark something as spam, or go through "show details" (which nearly no one will do) to unsubscribe? Why not also provide an unsubscribe button on the interface in addition to the "report spam" button?
I can understand why Gmail would forgo providing the email address back to the sender at the user's discretion. However, even the FTC has a study showing that unsubscribing from spam doesn't really lead to more spam. In the FTC's 2002 study, they report that "In no instance did we find that any of our unique email accounts received more spam after attempting to unsubscribe."
Gmail has the opportunity to educate their subscribers on legitimate and unsolicited email. Why not provide just an "unsubscribe" button for legitimate senders, and explain why they are doing it, rather than propagating the unfounded fear of unsubscribing?
Also, other ISPs have gotten around this privacy concern by not passing back the actual email address back to the sender. Many senders use other forensics to determine which subscriber complained so that this subscriber can be removed from the list.
We advise clients to look at all sorts of engagement metrics, and unsubscribes and complaints are equally as important as opens and clicks. When possible, I'd like to know the ultimate intent of the subscriber when they choose to get off of a list. I always say I'd rather have someone unsubscribe from my email than ignore me.
As for which email this is enabled for and which not, the folks over at Word to the Wise looked at this a bit deeper and do some testing. They found that:
"Conditions where the unsubscribe option is presented include:
Read more about their tests here http://blog.exacttarget.com/blog/the-exacttarget-blog/0/0/gmail-offering-unsubscribe-option or here http://blog.wordtothewise.com/2009/07/gmail-offering-unsubscribe-option/.
Either way, legitimate senders do benefit from this, but it is fun to dream of having both unsubscribe and report spam options available to subscribers.
- Chip House, Vice President, Industry & Relationship Marketing, ExactTarget
Chip is responsible for industry research and relations, and owns the targeted marketing programs that ensure the satisfaction and success of ExactTarget's client base. Chip also manages the teams responsible for marketing research, deliverability compliance, and privacy initiatives. As an established industry leader, Chip writes regularly for online marketing publications and was named to BtoB Magazine's 2005 "Who's Who in B-To-B" for being a vocal proponent of legitimate commercial email. Chip brings 20 years of direct marketing and twelve years of internet marketing experience to ExactTarget.
The internet was designed to be a free exchange of information wherein anyone, upon a loose framework mainly having to do with networking and rendering capabilities, could join, share and digest what they wanted. Email was developed as a predecessor to the internet. Again, one in which, as long as you had the most basic SMTP compliancy between networks, messages would be handed off between point A to B.
Today, email has turned into a monumentally powerful marketing tool and communication channel that still rivals the internet and other upcoming social networks, regardless of which side of the "email is dying" debate you fall under. With email marketing, forward to a friend, sharing links, email filters and forwarders, along with major ISPs providing outsourcing solutions (like Google Apps), the audit trail of an email is sometimes all but impossible to decipher without CSI level forensic header analysis.
But, you don't care about all this.
What should you care about?
When you place an order to have something delivered with the USPS, UPS or FedEx, that item almost never leaves that company's chain of custody. Meaning, if you dropped it off with FedEx, the recipient will most likely receive it with FedEx. Again, there are exceptions, but the vast majority of the time this is the rule. When you send an email out, though, it may be going to a Yahoo! domain address, then forwarded on to a Gmail domain address and finally rendered in Outlook 2007. What can you do to ensure that your mail has the highest rate of making it to its final destination regardless of the cyber hops in the middle?
1. Ask your recipient up front if their email address is still, indeed, the right one to be using. I check over 8 different email accounts on a normal day, and with inbox email aggregators with dynamic collection addresses (such as OtherInbox), I probably have several hundred email addresses (with OtherInBox I can use disposable email addresses) that will get to me somehow. However, the email address to sign up with your service when I was a fresh college grad and using my Alumni account may no longer be at the top of my list. So, I appreciate it when companies I do business with ask me if that's still the one I should have on my account. If it is, I click through on a prompt when I login. If not, it takes 2 seconds to change. I don't get asked this every time I login, but perhaps, every 6 months or so to ensure the email address is fresh. Guess what? My Alumni account is forwarded to my Yahoo! account. So, I changed it to have my Yahoo! account receive the email directly (and thus avoid any errant filtering on the part of my school).
2. Authenticate outbound email. Period. DKIM was designed not to break when making multiple hops in an email's path to the final destination. Unfortunately SPF will because of the technical nature of email headers, but with DKIM enabled mail, if it comes through at Gmail verified and then is forwarded on to AOL, the DKIM signature stays intact and the message has a higher likelihood of being delivered.
3. Here's the bad part. Just like you as a sender pushing mail out to a recipient, when email is forwarded to another domain by the recipient domain, the reputation and deliverability of that mail falls back on the ISP doing the forwarding. For instance, I run my own domain hosted through Gmail. When you send an email there, it gets forwarded to Yahoo! which is what I consider my central email nervous system. But, sometimes, email from Gmail gets bulked at Yahoo! because of Gmail's reputation. This means I don't get my mail. What can you do about it? Gently remind your subscribers to check their spam folders for mail that may have accidentally fallen prey to a filter somewhere. In my case, I'll get email that randomly gets bulked (as opposed to breaking any obvious best sending practices) and have made it a habit to check my spam folder often.
4. Check your content in multiple web clients. Oftentimes, an email sent to a Comcast domain looks fantastic, but when forwarded to an AOL accounts, looks horrible. Now, like in #3, a lot of this is out of your control if the actual content is changed en route by the ISP. But, if you ensure that your content looks good in the different clients, you increase your chances that when an ISP doesn't reach in and play with the HTML when it's being forwarded along, it will look fine in the end email inbox.
5. Have unique identifiers in your unsubscribe links tying an email address back to a particular sender. If I unsubscribe from my Yahoo! address on an email that was sent to me originally at a Gmail account but was forwarded on, you could end up shooting yourself in the proverbial foot. I could have any wanted email to my Yahoo! account stop but the Gmail email continue. Recipients will oftentimes setup multiple email addresses for one account, or across multiple accounts you as an ESP or single sender support, so directly tying that recipient's unsubscribed email address to their preferences (and not the one that happened to actually do the unsubscribing) is key.
This is pretty technical stuff, folks. But, in order to stay on top of the original intent of email being free flowing and having as few barriers as possible, you must be cognizant of the challenges in your path. Reach out to your technical team to ensure you've got these points covered. And remember, an email address is easily disposable. We, as marketers, tend to see them as having high stickiness. But, recipients can come and go with fluidity and tracking them along the way with their permission (ultimately their keeping you informed of their moves) keeps you in touch with your customers.
Director of Deliverability
Though growing your email database takes time and effort, when done correctly, it will house your most qualified and responsive leads. A well structured email database will enable you to boost sales with more targeted messages and offers, extend the lifecycle of any campaign and increase customer retention with regular and relevant communications.
Consider the following techniques to acquire new leads and grow your email list with success:
1. Who is your ideal lead and how do you reach them? Create a profile for your best customer(s). This should include things such as age, gender, hobbies, job function, how they shop (online or at stores), where they shop, what they read, what websites they visit, etc. Depending on the product or service you are marketing, some of the above will be more relevant than others. For example, if you are marketing a clothing line, job function will be less relevant than where and how they shop, where as if you are marketing a trade publication, job function and industry will be extremely important.
2. Analyze your competition. Take some time to find out what your competitors are doing to build their email lists. Start off by going to their websites. Then do a web search on your competition as well as relevant key words, and take note of any banners / CPC ads that appear. Be sure to click through to check out what their landing pages look like and what type of information they are choosing to capture. If they have an e-newsletter, sign up for it. This is an easy way to start receiving their email campaigns. All of these steps will help you find out what type of promotions they are running, any marketing alliances they have formed, and how they are positioning their product or service.
3. Reach your best customer. Once you've created your customer profile(s) and finished your competitive analysis, you are ready to develop your list growth strategy. Your strategy can include initiatives such as: banner ads on websites that your target audience visits, a PPC campaign, direct mail or email campaigns to magazine subscriber opt-in lists, etc. You can also approach other products or service providers for co-promotions or mutually beneficial partnerships. Starting an e-newsletter or a blog for your company are great ways to grow your list as long as your content is desirable. The lifecycle of any campaign can be extended with behavior-based trigger emails.
4. Your offer is everything! Unless your offer is relevant to the recipient, they will not respond to your campaign. Your offer will need to prompt the recipient to make a purchase or willingly give you their information in exchange for something they want. For instance, you might send an email introducing your company to a magazine subscriber opt-in list that you know your target audience reads. By including a free downloadable premium such as an industry salary guide, a list of the hottest bars in town, or a best practices whitepaper – what ever might be most relevant to your target audience – recipients will need to provide their email address and demographic information in order to download the premium. Once you've captured their information and they've opted-in to your database, you will be able to communicate with that lead on an ongoing basis.
5. Your offer is almost everything! Unless the recipients receive your email, they cannot receive your offer. Therefore, be sure to comply with email marketing best practices: include a physical mailing address, an opt-out link and a subject line that reflects the content in your email. Also, when writing your email, try to stay away from words that are flagged by spam filters.
6. Create a landing page. It is extremely important to guide the campaign recipient through the entire process. By creating a landing page on your website that mirrors your campaign's message / offer, you will encourage the recipient to fill out the form with the ultimate goal of opting-in to your list.
7. Use a lead capture form. Your landing page can either link to a lead capture form or you can embed the form in the landing page itself.
a. Since people are more prone to filling out a short form than a long and drawn out questionnaire, limit the amount of information you are asking them to provide in exchange for their premium. Besides the basic name and email address, think of including one or two other demographic questions. These questions should be well thought out to provide you with information you can leverage for future email campaigns.
b. In addition to the demographic questions, your form should include a check box giving people the option to opt-in to your mailing list and receive information about your company and future promotions. According to the CAN-SPAM Act, if people do not explicitly say that they would like to receive emails from you in the future, it is unlawful to send them commercial marketing emails.
c. If you do not currently have a way to capture leads, an easy way to do this is through your email service provider. Most ESPs will provide you with both the lead capture form and a database to house the acquired leads. They will also manage your opt-outs for you.
8. Track your efforts. If you track your list building efforts, you will be able to pinpoint which initiatives are working the best and focus more of your energy on those. You might decide that others aren't worth your time. Easy ways to track your initiatives are:
a. Web Analytics: sign up for a free Google Analytics account. This will enable you to track how many people are visiting each page on your site and which campaign they are coming from.
b. In your lead capture form, include one question asking people how they heard about you with a drop down menu where customers can select from a list of your current list building initiatives.
c. Landing Pages: create a separate landing page for each marketing initiative so you can track page visits to these dedicated pages through your web analytics account.
d. Dedicated 800 numbers: there are services that will provide you with a range of 800 numbers that redirect to your main phone number. Including a dedicated 800 number on each landing page will enable you to associate each call with a specific campaign.
Remember, even if you are accurately targeting your best customer, your campaign will only be a success if you get them to act on your offer and opt-in to your database. Be sure to spend enough time tailoring your message and the offer to the people who will be receiving your campaign.
- Yael K. Penn, Founder and Principal, Imagine 360 Marketing
During the eec List Growth & Engagement Roundtable meeting this week, several DMA/eec members had a fascinating conversation about how to define consumer intent under CAN-SPAM as it relates to opt out for third party messages. The rules amended to CAN-SPAM which went into effect in July of 2008 say that there only needs to be one opt-out per message, and provides some guidance on the definition of the "sender" and "primary sender."
"Listen" in with me….
Arend Henderson of Q Interactive, an online consumer site that has a very large email list rental business: It's about the permission grant. If the message is from PublisherA, and the Friendly from is the publisher, along with the message header and footer – and significantly, the permission grant is with the publisher; but then the full message promotes AdvertiserB, then the opt out under CAN-SPAM should be from the sender and list owner, who is PublisherA.
Stephanie Miller (me) of Return Path, an email deliverability and performance company: The panel of privacy experts who spoke at the recent eec/DMA webinar with the FTC interpret the legislation that the opt out should be provided by the advertiser.
Arend: We interpret this as a protection of the consumer interest. We, the publisher, own the list, we own the relationship, and we care about those relationships. We believe that the opt out should be from the publisher, not the advertiser. It's our job to send subscribers messages.
Kim Santos, Reader's Digest: I feel the opposite. The opt-out has to be on the side of the advertiser. In list rental, where the advertiser is the sole focus of the message, that is what drives the unsubscribe request. If I'm a consumer, then I don't want the AdvertiserB advertisement. The subscriber wants out of the AdvertiserB messages. If the opt out is only with PublisherA, then AdvertiserB could just go rent another list from another publisher. It's a penalty for those subscribers who are on a lot of lists.
Arend: We feel strongly that the message is not from AdvertiserB. The permission grant is with us, the publisher.
Luke Glasner of Rodman Publishing: If you want to opt-out from AdvertiserB, you should be able to opt-out of those specific messages of the advertiser from PublisherA. The publisher like Rodman provides the opt out and we offer to manage the suppression file for advertisers who rent from us multiple times. Also for first time users we request suppression files - and we don't charge extra for them. Personally, I don't think list renters should charge to run a suppression file - since the person that benefits the most from reducing spam complaints is the list owner, even more so than the consumer of that email. It's not about protecting consumers from AdvertiserB in other areas of the Internet. If I walk around and see an AdvertiserB billboard, does that violate the opt-out? Does my email opt-out mean that I won't ever see an ad on the street or on TV or on a website?
Kim: No of course not, but there is so much transparency in email than in other channels. You can't suppress ads in those other channels, but in email you can. I as a publisher and someone who cares about my subscribers have a responsibility to protect my consumer. So I make sure that if you don't want to see AdvertiserB ads, you won't see them from me, ever.
Luke: I can only be responsible for my email program, not actions of every person that engages in online advertising. I do feel we have a duty to respect our readers and to give them control over their inbox. It is up the subscriber to tell me how much they want to engage with me. And it is up to me to respect their wishes. I think that email is privilege granted to senders by their subscribes not a right. Based on my experience I think that most consumers would agree with that.
Kim: What about when there are two opt-outs? One each for the advertiser and for the publisher? We often see that, and sometimes offer it.
Arend: Consumers don't think in our terms, they don't know why there are two opt-outs. They don't know who is "sender" under the law. This is why we never let the advertiser put AdvertiserB in the friendly from line. The messages come from Q Interactive, which is the brand you know and gave a permission grant to.
Luke: I will tell you what consumers do when they see two unsubscribe links. They go to the top of the message and click the Report Spam button. They won't bother to figure it out. It's not worth it to us as a list owner to work with advertisers who drive a lot of unsubscribe requests or complaints (when someone clicks the Report Spam button).
Arend: We agree. We do not work with those kinds of advertisers at all or at least for very long.
Luke: And the other side is true as well. Sometimes, the person who is sending this message and the sales person at the list owner have different agendas. If you are a buyer, be sure that the list owner can actually do what they promise.
Kim: We view this as a partnership. We want our advertisers to succeed. We had to put in an actual, official corporate marketing role so that we have an ombudsman around this area. That has helped to eliminate confusion.
Stephanie: How do you handle newsletters with multiple ads?
Kim: We treat these differently than full page email broadcasts. In this case, the opt-out is with Reader's Digest, the sender.
Arend: We do the same thing.
Luke: We also follow the same for our newsletters. An email newsletter's purpose is to provide (hopefully) engaging content to the reader. We support the newsletter financially by selling ad space so we can continue to provide our readers with newsletters.
- Stephanie Miller, Return Path
In last week's eec/DMA webinar, Peder Magee, Esq., FTC Privacy and Theft attorney for the Bureau of Consumer Protection joined DMA's VP of Government Affairs, Jerry Cerasale, and a panel of email privacy experts to discuss the latest thinking at the agency.
For now, that stance seems to suggest that the self regulation of the industry is working. Magee noted that some concepts "transcend the medium" when it comes to self regulation. "Transparency, prominent notice, use of personal data, and providing the ability to opt out easily" all are areas the FTC continues to watch.
Certification and feedback loop programs were noted by panelist Tom Bartel, CPO of Return Path, as an example of how the industry cooperates in order to make self regulation work. Especially for certification programs, "Email marketers put themselves forward voluntarily to be held to high standards," Bartel says. "Including the things Peder listed about prominence. Once they are vouched for by the third party, the ISPs can make good decisions about what to do with email from those senders.
"Participation in these programs shows marketers are willing to go way past the law, and well past best practices," Bartel states.
The FTC remains aggressive about prosecuting offenders under CAN-SPAM. Magee says, "CAN-SPAM and some of the filtering technologies have reduced the spam that consumers were getting a lot more of." He notes that the agency also brings cases against phishing scams, often initiated through email. Webinar moderator and DMA VP of Government Affairs Jerry Cerasale noted, "The FTC is the most active regulatory body in this area. Opt-in laws in Europe have not resulted in as many cases as the FTC."
More heartbreaking news from a study that drills into a critical aspect of email marketing: the unsubscribe process. Apparently, some very smart marketers are not giving the unsubscribe the attention it needs as a valid part of their customers' holistic email brand experience.
Return Path's new study Keeping the Subscriber Experience Positive After "Unsubscribe Me" found that marketers may be considering the unsubscribe process as more of an afterthought vs. giving it the attention that it deserves (and that is required by law).
We found that 20% of top brand marketers sent additional emails to subscribers after confirming an unsubscribe request, and 11% of the companies studied emailed subscribers more than 10 days after confirming an unsubscribe request—a violation of the federal CAN-SPAM Act.
But here's one stat that definitely caught my attention—only 2 of the 45 companies we studied offered subscribers the option to change the frequency of their emails. We've discussed over and over again the risk that consumers are too inundated with email and just tune out. If a customer or potential customer is interested in your products but they'd rather hear from you once a month vs. once a week, by all means please give them that option and keep them on your list.
—Stephanie Miller of Return Path
Please help us get the word out about the eec Speakers Bureau by including the following item in your next client newsletter or on your blog:
Email Marketing Experts Available to Speak at Your Next Event
Do you belong to an organization or group whose members could benefit from learning more about email marketing? Then please tell them that the Direct Marketing Association's Email Experience Council wants to help. The eec's Speakers Bureau has experts available across the U.S. and Canada who have committed themselves to helping email marketers maximize their return on investment and avoid pitfalls such as CAN-SPAM violations and being blacklisted. These industry veterans have waived all speakers' fees and can talk on a wide variety of topics, including…
● How Email Compliments Other Channels
● Obeying CAN-SPAM and Other Laws
● Getting and Maintaining Permission
● Ensuring Your Emails Are Delivered
● Growing a Large and Active List
● What to Send to Your Subscribers
To learn more and to request a speaker, please visit the eec's Speakers Bureau.
*Help us spread the word about this initiative by re-running this item in your client newsletter or on your blog. Thank you.
Are the basics of email marketing leaving you stumped? Don't know where to turn with your most pressing email marketing questions? The wait is now over! The Email Experience Council's Member Initiatives Advisory Committee has established a comprehensive list of Email Marketing Q&A's that will assist even the most seasoned email marketing veteran in answering some of the industry's most pressing questions.
Questions range on topics such as permission, deliverability, list rental, Can-Spam requirements, and engaging consumers. From questions such as "Can you give me a list of spammy words to avoid?" to "Do I need to get permission in order to send emails to customers?" there is something interesting for everyone.
Personally, my favorite QA is "Everyone on my list has opted in so why am I getting spam complaints?" The accompanying answer is a solid response to a question asked by many in the email world, but this issue will more than likely forever remain as one that we email marketers will continue to ask, study, and try to solve for ages to come.
By no means are the contributors to the Q&A lawyers or legal advisors but most have been in the trenches of email marketing for long enough to know the answers to the questions everyone wants to know but are too afraid to ask. In addition, many of the answers are accompanied by other valuable resources to further enhance your knowledge on particular subjects.
Not seeing your most burning questions on the list? Send them to us! We'll be continuing to post Q&A's periodically so email us your questions and check back later for the answers.
—eec Members Initiatives Advisory Committee chair Lauren Skena of Epsilon
This 4-hour seminar in New York is part of a ground-breaking series of email compliance-focused events. This specific seminar will cover the LashBack and UnsubCentral processes and deliverables within a framework of educating participants as to the need for comprehensive compliance process as a foundation to successful email marketing and email reputation protection.
Participants will learn the 10 Guidelines of CAN-SPAM compliance, with drill down on unsubscribe compliance, unsubscribe processes including suppression list best practices, the new FTC unsubscribe rule and compliance's overall impact on reputation and deliverability.
Email Compliance: The Foundation of Reputation and Deliverability
Produced by the Email Experience Council and the Direct Marketing Association
Monday, Nov. 3 at 1pm
eec/DMA Seminar Center, New York
John Engler, Vice President and General Manager, UnsubCentral
Bennet Kelley, Esq., Founder, The Internet Law Center
James O'Brien, Director of Marketing, LashBack
This seminar is $99, but eec members can get $20 off using the discount code "eecM."
>>Register Now for this seminar!
45% –> Yes, because the new rules didn't require any changes.
34% –> Yes. We've made the necessary changes.
2% –> No, but we're evaluating what changes are needed.
19% –> No. We weren't aware that new CAN-SPAM rules were issued.
Thanks to everyone who participated in this unscientific survey.
Are you surprised by the results? Share your comments below.
Also, visit the eec homepage to answer the latest Two-Click Survey question:
How long is too long to go between sending emails to a subscriber?
Diving headlong into the world of email creative is tough if you don't have all the lingo down. Here's a handy cheat sheet for those who are still polishing their grasp on the glossaries, and a brush up on definitions and best practices for those who already know their stuff:
(1) The Preheader
These small and subdued text blurbs at the top of your emails are getting more play these days. Particularly as more folks browse their inboxes from mobile devices, this first glimpse of the main message becomes your crucial chance to grab their interest. A preheader informs a recipient of what the email is about, how to view it with images and/or from a mobile device, and how to ensure future delivery via content teaser snippet(s), the "view with images" prompt and/or the "add to address book" prompt. Think about what text snippet you want customers to see first. Probably something a little more engaging than "If you are having trouble viewing this email with images…"
(2) Header and Navigation
This often takes the form of a colored banner and encompasses anything that lies between your preheader and main message. It's the space for your company logo, and—depending on the message content—it may also include menu items that link to other pages of your site, just in case the main message doesn't quite strike the fancy of the viewer.
(3) Primary Message
Your email's big push deserves a lot of attention from you since you're looking to earn the attention of your subscribers. A harmonious balance of headline, body copy and supporting images delivers maximum impact. This should include a prominent primary call-to-action (ideally in the form of a big, beautiful, "bulletproof" button!) and a link to a landing page with a cohesive look and message that will maintain enough interest to turn that clickthrough into a conversion.
(4) Table of Contents
These come in handy for longer, newsletter-form emails that contain tons of content, allowing customers to skip right to what interests them rather than having to scroll all the way down. The TOC works most effectively as a bulleted list at the top of your email that is anchor tagged to hotlink directly to content. Fitting this into your preview pane, along with your primary message and call-to-actions, will also help it gain enough attention to earn its keep.
Adding secondary and tertiary messages to your email gives you the opportunity to present another story or two. Just make sure you don't lose your viewers in a maze of information. Keep it clean with visual prompts like color, strong headlines, imagery and graphics. Submessages are usually organized in a siderail or layer-caked below the primary message.
(6) Recovery Module
This is your final outpost, your last chance to capture the clickthrough of anyone who may have sailed through your main message or submessages. The recovery module is often a bar at the bottom of the email that includes a list of links to your site, or potentially an incentive to grab your subscribers' interest before they slip back to their inboxes.
Using the same sort of subdued, "legalese" text that comprises the header, this is another place to include the essential nuts-and-bolts info. The unsubscribe link is tucked away here along with company contact details, "forward to friend" and customer service links. And of course, make sure it's CAN-SPAM compliant!
Talk the talk; walk the walk!
Lisa Harmon of Smith-Harmon
42% –> Open rate
13% –> Click rate
18% –> Click-to-open rate
26% –> Conversion rate
Are you surprised by the results? Share your comments below.
Also, visit the eec homepage to answer the latest Two-Click Survey question:
Are you in compliance with the new CAN-SPAM rules that went into effect this month?